The chief executive of Insurance Times's Loss Adjuster of the Year shares his thoughts on the year ahead

The Davies Group scooped the award of Loss Adjuster of the Year at the most recent Insurance Times Awards. Before joining Davies, chief executive Charles Crawford was managing director of the partnership and international business at RBS Insurance.

Q. What made Davies stand out at the Insurance Times Awards?

A. I think we had some great teamwork and came up with the right solutions for our customers. One of the biggest focus areas for insurers is burst pipes and leaking showers and radiators. We introduced some interesting solutions that were also cost-effective.

Q. Looking ahead to the coming year, what do you see lined up for Davies?

A. We are still a business that is consolidating and the coming year will see more consolidation. We will also have to deal with all the claims that will come through over the winter. We are seeing a lot of claims at the moment from this season’s wintry weather, which will keep us busy – especially from burst pipes and claims for roofs and gutters damaged by snow.

Q. How much pressure will the extreme weather put on the loss adjusting sector?

A. Insurance is a cyclical business, so we have to plan and prepare for these types of things. It is a weather-driven business. While the severe weather has come a bit earlier than usual, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that in December and January it can get very cold and pipes start bursting. To a degree, that is what we are here to do.

Q. What are the biggest differences between working for an insurer and a loss adjuster?

A. I moved from a huge corporate business to a much smaller private equity-owned business. It was a complete change, but I think the biggest change is that I am able to be more myself. I find I have a much greater influence over the business and I get to meet more customers and more staff. In a smaller business like this, you are able to add a lot more value.

Q. The average loss adjuster is now well into his or her forties. How can the sector prevent a looming skills gap?

A. There are things we can do both as employers and as a sector. As a company, our first port of call is to advertise internally rather than going outside, so people see there is a career path. It is important people see that they can go from being a claims administrator to becoming a junior claims handler and eventually a qualified loss adjuster. As a new employer, it is important to promote professional qualifications and then it is down to the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjustors to make sure the relevant qualifications exist.

Q. What trends do you see emerging in the claims sector in the coming year?

A. I think insurers are going to be very focused on service delivery. The collapse of ROC a few months ago will make people more focused on dealing with organisations they are confident will be there when they need them. The ongoing pricing pressures will place pressure on insurers, and therefore businesses in the claims space, to ensure we are delivering a cost-effective service to them.

Q. Is major consolidation likely throughout the rest of the sector?

A. Not particularly because I think there is a good degree of competition between the big players. We have seen some of the smaller niche liability players merge or be acquired over the past year, but I don’t see any major-scale change over the next few months.

Q. What do you see as the next big challenges for the claims sector?

A. Property claims will become a focus as the profitability of the property sector comes under pressure. There will be a lot of players moving out of motor because the motor book has been under pressure for a number of years. I think we will see more people moving into household and commercial property. More competition will drive down prices and if there is less premium coming through but the same amount of claims, then profitability is going to reduce. In addition in our business, an ongoing challenge is to continue to demonstrate that we can offer great services in a cost-effective way – and better than insurance companies can do it themselves.